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The Woodsman: Sandy Historical Society & Museum Well Worth a Visit

By Steve Wilent

The Woodsman: Sandy Historical Society & Museum Well Worth a Visit

Lloyd Musser’s Museum Chatter articles in the past few editions of The Mountain Times have shone a bright spotlight on the Mt. Hood Cultural Center & Museum in Government Camp, and deservedly so. Not only is it a World Heritage Ski Museum, it’s also a repository of information about the history of the area, from the opening of the Barlow Road in the 1840s to the present. You’ll also find a collection of artworks by locals and a handful of photographs by the late Dale Crockatt (1957 – 2015), a real-estate agent and avid skier, mountain climber and hiker. The museum also has displays featuring the Mt. Hood National Forest, including replicas of an old fire lookout tower and an early ranger-station office, complete with a typewriter and primitive (by today’s standards) telephone system.

Did you know that we have another museum in our area? You’ve probably driven by it a few hundred times or more: the Sandy Historical Society & Museum, at 39345 Pioneer Blvd. in Sandy, across from Stephanie’s International Cafe and Sandy Vision Center. The museum website notes that Pioneer Boulevard was a part of the original Barlow Road.

“The society was founded on 27 June 1926 at the 70th birthday party of John Henry Revenue, the first pioneer child born in the Sandy area. Later that year the constitution and by-laws were adopted and the official name chosen as Pioneers and Early Settlers of Sandy and Vicinity. In the early 1990s the final name change to Sandy Historical Society, Incorporated was made. Construction on the museum building started in June 2004 on land that the Barlow Road had crossed from 1846 until 1919. The museum was completed and opened in 2007 and added the gift shop in 2009.”

There is ample reason for a woodsman or –woman, or anyone interested in forests, to visit the museum. You’ll find information about the Sandy Lumber Company, which had a mill and “company town” in Brightwood in the early to mid-1900s, and Walter E. Koch Sr., who ran a mill from 1943 to about 1973 on land where the Mt. Hood Industrial Park is now, off Ruben Lane, across the highway from Safeway. The mill employed about 100 men in the mill and the woods, and the mill fueled the Sandy area economy during that time. No doubt many local old-timers recall these and other mills and their importance to the area.

There’s much more to the museum than the history of local logging. The museum’s oldest artifact is a section of tree trunk with “Crawford’s Camp, Sept. 25, 1808” carved into it. Who Crawford was and why he or she was in Oregon remains a mystery. An explorer? Trapper? Who else was at Crawford’s Camp?

Docent and office supervisor Ken Funk will be happy to guide you through the museum. Funk is steeped in the history of the area and in genealogy and has stories about everything in the exhibits, stories he loves to tell. Funk recently gave me a tour of the museum exhibits and a small library and repository of genealogical information about Sandy residents past and present, all of which is available to visitors at no charge.

“We’re a free museum. We don’t believe in charging folks to learn about their own history,” he said.

Proceeds from the museum’s gift shop support the museum, as do membership dues and donations.

Revenue from photo/film scanning, genealogy research services, and room and facilities rentals also support the museum. Donations of both funding and materials for the museum, Funk said, are welcome.

There is far more to the Sandy Historical Society & Museum than I can describe here. Instead of driving by, stop by one day to take a look for yourself. Take your kids, your friends. You’ll likely find yourself wondering why you’ve passed by so many times without visiting.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Have a question about old-time logging and sawmills? Want to know the difference between loggers and lumberjacks? Let me know. Email: SWilent@gmail.com.

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